- By Chris Parkin
- 325 Comments
- Last updated: 19/02/2022
Tripods are a great tool for some shooting scenarios and most of them are photography kit derived. I like it when a product doesn’t pretend to be something of dedicated shooting manufacture when it’s not. The Sunwayfoto tripod does exactly that and most importantly, shows photography world quality, from a vast market not easily deluded by ostentatious, undesired functionality and poor durability.
When collapsed, the unit measures 55cm in length and fully extended, using the narrowest 23° leg angle, it reaches a height of 144cm. There is an intermediate 55° position and a full 85° spread, at which point the head will drop as low as 12cm from the supporting surface. Each of the four carbon fibre legs shows a diminishing diameter of 32/28/25/22mm from the top. They are securely bonded into aluminium sockets and through a damp winter have shown no likelihood of slippage, falling free or shedding their feet if wet or when exposed to freezing temperatures alternating with warm indoor storage.
Simplicity is maintained with a single ball head. It’s not a fluid unit but does offer a 35° tilt angle in any orientation, with full 360° rotation. A single QR lever allows this to be locked and unlocked without fuss, even when wearing gloves. Importantly, it keeps all axes of movement close between the rifle and the legs. There is a tension control for the QR lever and similarly, a toggle lever clamp operates the twin grooved head that is compatible with Picatinny and ARCA rails. The latter of which is increasingly common and guess what, photography derived! Other than naked carbon fibre, all metallic junctions are machined aluminium and show smooth hard anodising. They clearly reflect their original market expectations, which now cross over well to offer a 25kg camera/rifle load capacity from the ultra-lightweight, 1.65kg Sunwayfoto product.
A Cordura carry case is supplied with a cleaning cloth that will never get used by rough and tumble shooters. However, there are some interchangeable, stainless steel spike feet to stand in for the otherwise supplied, domed rubber feet. Similar stainless steel is used for all Allen-type fasteners throughout, for which a suitable key is supplied for maintenance.
When choosing a leg angle, each one has a sprung latch at its upper pivot, and this has displayed serious durability in a component location where many softer aluminium tripods fail (along with aluminium to C.F. Bonding, which is forever suspect). Here, Sunwayfoto has used hard aluminium that stands up to the job of maintaining integrity in its small, stepped teeth, when subjected to the leverage of a long and stiff 150cm leg! I also found the rubber locking collars offered good grip, gloved or not, and locked the legs without excessive force required. The initial setup was about 30 seconds from the case to fitting a rifle and being ready to shoot.
Carbon fibre is light, stiff and also quieter than aluminium. It also draws less heat from your hands, so it is more comfortable to use in the cold, particularly if continually altering its position or even resting your hands on it while waiting out for a fox all night.
I liked the simple, fuss-free capability of the product, without excessive, unrequired functionality and found it both stable and stiff in use. The single-handed operation for the ball head was truly intuitive and you weren’t fiddling for the right control or having to look for the right dial. Some might prefer a fluid head and yes, they are very nice, but quality ones are a significant additional expense, so, I can’t fault this unit for its simpler efficiency, with easy access locking levers and opposing tension adjusters.
The only slight downside is the 144cm maximum height, which although fine for me at 5ft 11” (180cm), and a pal at 5ft 9”, was insufficient for my 6ft 3” friend on flat ground, who looked distinctly ‘stooped’ using our similar test rifle selection mounted to it. Had the shots been uphill, we would all have likely needed additional height.
I think this is a well-made and superior designed product, and having found it withstanding realworld usage with ease, I can’t wait to see more from the brand.